Indiana Wesleyan wins NAIA national volleyball championship
December 6, 2023
November 14, 2023
This is John Tawa’s “Dots,” VolleyballMag.com’s weekly look at 10 things in high school volleyball, past or present, that interest me and hopefully will interest you. Look for Dots every Tuesday until the last high school state championship this month:
• There was an avalanche of state championship events last weekend, with 18 states and the District of Columbia holding some or all of their final matches. There are new champions this week in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
Since the Dots column contemplates only 10 items, rather than attempt to recap EVERYTHING, here are the results I found most interesting from the week that was.
• Last week, we reported on the long consecutive title streaks of Omaha Skutt Catholic (nine), Pace Academy of Georgia (seven) and Lone Peak of Utah (six).
Add Metairie Park Country Day of Louisiana to the list. The Cajuns won their eighth straight Div. V title and 14th in the past 15 seasons in three over Westminster Christian. Four players, led by junior Jane Gambel with 14, had nine or more kills for Country Day. The Cajuns got 10 kills from senior Gigi Dazet, but she is one of just a few graduating players on a roster filled with 11 juniors. That means to expect a ninth title in 2024. And, with Country Day a program with big-time talent in the smallest division, do not expect the streak to end anytime soon unless Louisiana forces the Cajuns into a higher division based on success
Also in Louisiana, the two most decorated seniors in the state – both coached by their moms — closed out incredible careers with state titles.
In Div. I, OH Camryn Chatelier had 21 kills, including the clincher, to help Dominican get by Mount Carmel in four sets (33-31 in the fourth). Zoie Mitchell and Tamia Williams combined for 33 more, thanks to deft setting from Gabby Morello. Dominican has now won four consecutive state championships. Mount Carmel senior libero Nola Sevin had 40 digs in the loss. Before Dominican’s current streak, Mount Carmel had won the previous six titles.
In Div. III., OH Sophia Bonnaffee had 24 kills and 10 digs to propel Archbishop Hannan past E.D. White in straight sets. Senior setter Sarah Kirsch, like Bonnaffee a four-year starter, contributed 34 assists. Hannan has won state three of the past four years.
St. Thomas More won its third straight title, and ninth all-time, by defeating familiar foe Teurlings Catholic in Div. II. The past four Div. II finals have featured this pair. Rhyan Miciotto earned Player of the Match recognition after amassing 14 kills and 24 assists.
Northlake Christian won Div. IV, capturing state for the first time since 2009. The Wolverines dominated Notre Dame behind Abigail Bailey (18 kills), Abigail Drury (38 assists; 14 digs) and freshman Evie Burns (11 blocks).
• Mother McAuley won its second straight Illinois Class 4A title and 17th all-time in a three-set thriller with Benet Academy, which was a rematch of last year’s championship final. Ellie White had 18 kills and eight digs and Payton Heatherly recorded 32 assists and 13 digs for the victors.
Wheaton St. Francis repeated as Class 3A champions. The Spartans edged Lincoln, 23-25, 25-23, 26-24, behind the strong play of Addy Horner and Anna Paquette. The duo combined for 25 kills and 30 digs and Horner, a 6-3 junior, also had 23 assists and three blocks. St. Francis’ other setter, KK Dumpit, chipped in with 19 assists, but had no kills, as she rarely attacked the second ball. St. Francis now has 14 titles in program history. Kloe Froebe and Peyton Sasse teamed for 29 kills and 29 digs in the loss for the Railsplitters.
Breese Mater Dei won its first Class 2A title since 2011, and eighth all-time, by defeating IC Catholic Prep in two sets. Addie Nenninger had 18 assists and four kills to lead the Knights. Elyse Strader delivered the title-clinching kill.
Galena won its first state title in Class 1A, defeating perennial power Hartsburg-Emden in straight sets. The state title is the first of any kind for the school since 2007. Galena, which got double digit kills from Gracie Furlong and Addie Hefel, has won 30 or more matches for the past eight years.
• It’s the end of an era in Minnesota, as the Swenson twins, setter Stella Swenson and OH Olivia Swenson, led Wayzata to a fourth straight Class 4A title. The Trojans completed a perfect 34-0 season by sweeping three close sets from New Prague behind 32 assists and five kills from Stella Swenson and 14 kills and two blocks from Olivia Swenson, both of whom are Minnesota Golden Gopher recruits.
Marshall won its third straight Class 3A title, sweeping Delano. The Tigers were led by senior Brielle Riess, who returned to the court after suffering an ankle injury early in the match and notched a match-high 18 kills.
Pequot Lakes, the 2A runner up in 2002, won its first title, in three over Rush City. Ella Kratochvil had 20 kills and 11 digs to lead the senior-dominated Patriots.
Russell-Tyler-Ruthton used 21 kills and 15 digs from Abigail Carr and another 15 kills from Allyson Nelson in a four-set win over perennial power Mayer Lutheran to win its first Class A title. The Knights won state in their first trip to the state tournament.
• Kings defeated Olentangy Orange to capture the Ohio Division I title. Elise Marchal had 28 kills, a tournament record in a three-set match; and Abby Yoder contributed 38 assists, nine digs, four kills and two aces for the first-time champions.
Maria Drapp collected 46 assists and added 12 digs, five kills and two aces as Mercy McAuley edged Gilmour Academy, 16-14 in the fifth, for the Div. II title. Sophia Adkins had 19 kills and 16 digs and Emma Adkins added 23 digs for the victors, who won their first title as a combined school. The school formed in 2017 from Mother of Mercy and McAuley schools..
Mentor Lake Catholic successfully defended its Div. III title by sweeping Archbishop McNicholas behind 21 Katie Sowko kills and 40 Hannah Pattie assists.
New Bremen repeated as Div. IV champion. The Cardinals, who got 20 kills from Olivia Heitkamp in the four-set win over Tiffin Calvert, have won four state championships since 2017.
• Prestonwood Christian Academy won the TAPPS 6A state championship on Saturday, defeating St. Agnes in three sets to repeat as Texas’ large-class private school champions. The Lions placed four players, Macaria Spears (Texas), Jadyn Livings (USC), Gillian Pitts (Houston), and Mikala Young (TCU), on the All-State Tournament team. PCA has a roster loaded with high-level Division I talent.
Other TAPPS titles went to Liberty Christian (5A), Grace Prep Academy (4A). Denton Calvary (3A), Ovilla Christian (2A) and Christ Academy-Wichita Falls (1A). Liberty Christian’s title was its second over three years.
• Flint Hill school won its 13th Virginia Independent Schools state title over the past 14 years by downing Bishop O’Connell in four sets. Senior OH Mickhaila Murray had 18 kills and 18 digs to lead the Huskies, who also got 18 kills, 20 assists and 14 digs from junior S/RS/OH Isabelle Bardin, 14 kills from senior MB Ryla Jones, 27 digs from sophomore libero Evie Huang and 34 assists from senior setter Natalie Nguyen. Flint Hill finished 33-3 on the year and undefeated against Virginia competition.
Nansemond-Suffolk Academy won the VISAA title in Div. II, StoneBridge took the crown in Div. III and Fuqua captured Div. IV.
• In Alaska, for 17 years the large-class state champion was either South Anchorage or Dimond. That changed on Saturday, when Wasilla, a team with 6-3 and 6-5 middles, completed a sweep through 4A with a win over Bettye Davis East, its fourth sweep this year over Bettye Davis. The title was the first for the Warriors since 2001. Senior Rylee Pitney had the final kill in the win. She finished with more than 500 on the year.
Kenai Central won its second straight 3A title, in four over Valdez. Emma Beck had 24 kills and 14 digs and Kate Wisnewski contributed 41 assists and 23 digs in the win.
• O’Connor had dropped just five sets going into the Arizona 6A final. The Eagles dropped one more, to Perry, but prevailed in four to capture their first state title. Devyn Wiest led the way with 17 kills. Avery Stones had 16 kills for Perry in the loss.
Teraya Sigler, arguably the best player nationally in the 2025 class, recorded 30 kills and 29 digs to lead Horizon past Millennium in five sets for the 5A title. The Huskies won their third straight title by winning the first two sets in overtime and then holding on against a Tiger team sparked by Gabbi Kucinski, Anee Brauchmiller and Talea Mitchell. The title was the first for first-year coach McKenna Skaggs, a alumnus who was part of Horizon’s first title team in 2009.
Dissy Brinkerhoff had 23 kills to lead ALA-Gilbert North past defending champion Estrella Foothills for the 4A title, the first for the Eagles.
Snowflake won the 3A title for the second consecutive season. The Lobos downed Valley Christian in four sets, avenging a regular-season loss to the No. 1 seed. Chelsea Caskey, Macey Gardner and Livi Schneider all had double digit kill totals for the victors.
Quincy Rodin led Trivium Prep, a semifinal loser the previous five years, past two-time defending champion Phoenix Country Day for the 2A title.
Cicero Prep overcame an 0-3 start to the season to sweep St. David for its first 1A state title. The Centurions won 25 of their last 28 matches and beat a St. David team with nine state titles in its history.
• Valor Christian won its second straight Colorado 5A title and extended its winning streak to 58, but the Eagles were pushed to the limit by Fossil Ridge. The Sabercats won the first set and the fourth and led by three late in the fifth before Valor rallied for the win. Grace Langer and Delaney Russell each eclipsed double digit kills in the win.
Palmer Ridge won the 4A title – its second all-time – in an epic five-set battle over Thompson Valley. Big hitters Corrie Anderson and Amelia Hansen and defenders Ciara Connors and Emily Klahn led the way.
Sophia Knevelbaard, one of six seniors on Resurrection Christian’s roster, served a match point ace to send the Cougars past University High for the 3A title, their first at this level.
Wiggins won its second 2A title since 2020 by defeating 2021 and 2022 champions Sedgwick County in five sets. Wiggins also won the regular-season match in five sets.
Merino became the first 1A team to win four straight titles thanks to a sweep of Simla. Merino now has 14 titles all-time, which is second to Platte Valley in Colorado history. Makenna Sutter, the daughter of head coach Christina Sutter, has been on the court for all four titles. Her mother also won a championship during her playing days at Merino.
• Jada Aksu had 14 kills (.464) and Clara Yu contributed 25 assists, 14 digs, four and three aces as Georgetown Day dominated Jackson-Reed to take the District of Columbia title, its second in as many years. The Mighty Grasshoppers did not drop a set throughout the DCSAA tournament.
• Bella Lee had 30 digs and Maggie Dostic contributed 18 kills and 16 digs to lead Plant past Winter Park for the Florida 7A title. The Panthers have now won 12 titles all-time.
St. Thomas Aquinas won its seventh title all-time but first in five years by downing Viera in 6A, 27-25, 20-25, 27-25, 26-24. Tameary Wardlow’s 40 digs led the Raiders, who had three players reach double digit kill totals.
Middleburg swept Barron Collier to win 5A for the school’s first title. Connor Rahn, who was dominant all season, had 24 kills and 13 digs for the victors.
Jackie Taylor had a monster match – 26 kills, 6.5 blocks – to lead Gulliver Prep to the 4A title over Bishop Moore. The Raiders won their first state title just three years removed from a one-win season.
Freshman Lydia Chinchar recorded 35 kills and 19 digs to send Carrollwood Day past Westminster Christian for the 3A title. The title was the first for Doug Chinchar, the longtime head coach at Bishop McLaughlin. Westminster Christian, which lost in its third straight championship match, got a combined 49 kills and 41 digs from Gigi Artiles and Zoey Matias.
Seacrest Country Day School edged Boca Raton Christian, 15-11 in the fifth, to win its second straight 2A title. The Stingrays, who were led by Sami Soderlund (25 kills), Milena Lopez (51 assists) and Lexi Haley (20 digs) not only repeated despite graduating four starters from the 2022 tittle team, they set a school record for wins with 29.
Baker defeated Branford for the 1A title behind 24 kills and 17 digs from junior Kaleigh Moss.
• One year after missing the state tournament for the first time in 21 years, Kamehameha-Kapalama is the Hawaii Division 1 champion for the 24th time in program history and 12th time under current head coach Chris Blake. The Warriors’ road to the title included a sweep of Moanalua in the quarterfinals and a four-set win over ILH rival Punahou for the title. Kamehameha lost the first time it played the Buffanblu this year, but won the last five meetings. Hawaii signee Adrianna Arquette led the way with 17 kills, 18 digs and six blocks. Oregon State recruit Emma Lilo was masterful directing the attack with 43 assists, and added 10 digs. Sophomore OH Kala Chock also played big, contributing 16 kills and seven digs. Lulu Uluave led Punahou with 18 kills and 17 digs
Mid-Pacific Institute won its first-ever title on Friday, holding off University Lab in five sets in Division 2. Payton Smith had 20 kills for Mid-Pac and was selected the game’s Most Outstanding Player. It was the Owls’ first year competing in Division 2. Miliana Sylvester had 25 kills to lead University Lab.
• Bishop Gorman needed four sets to capture the Nevada 5A title over defending champion Coronado. Outside hitters Ayanna Watson and Leilia Toailoa had 26 and 21 kills, respectively, for the Gaels, who also got 59 assists from Trinity Thompson and 29 digs from Tatum Thompson.
Durango got 32 kills and 18 digs from Angelina Guerrero to propel the Trailblazers past Legacy for the 4A title.
The Meadows, North Tahoe and Smith Valley also won state title. Teagan York had 13 kills to lead Smith Valley (34-2) to the 1A title.
• Tower Hill, seeded ninth in the Delaware state tournament, upset No. 1 St. Mark’s in three sets. This was a rematch of the 2022 title tilt, which the Hillers also won. The match was played in front of a loud St. Mark’s crowd. Tower Hill’s Molly Pietlock got her 1,000 assist in the first set on a kill by freshman Sydney Fischer. Pietlock ended her milestone match with 8 kills, 18 assists, 12 digs and 3 blocks. Lydia Spencer led the team offensively with 14 kills, while senior libero Meghan Mumford led the defense with 22 digs.
• Immaculate Heart Academy (29-1) defeated Paul VI for the New Jersey Non-Public A title. Abby Romero had 23 digs. IHA had its streak of 13 straight titles snapped, by Paul VI, in 2021, but has since won the last two to increase its all-time total to 17.
Other Garden State titles went to Rutgers Prep (Non-Public B), Southern (Group 4), Princeton (Group 3), Demarest (Group 2) and Verona (Group 1).
• Yes, there are 17 Dots this week. Forgive me for going over! Next week, to compensate, there will be just three Dots.
Until next time …
By the way, more high school coverage and Tawa’s Dots articles can be found here.